“What’s up with that sculpture in the middle of the intersection, Donica?”

“I don’t know, Dave, but it seems to be coming alive!”

To travel is to be constantly surprised, especially when you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

My girlfriend (and one-day wife) and I have flown up to Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand specifically to take a cooking class with a woman named Suwanee (a blog entry soon to be written). The night before our class, we’re walking around town, looking for something to eat, when we happen to be standing at just the right intersection at just the right time: 8pm. In the middle of a traffic circle stands a beautifully ornate, mini, temple-like structure, painted all in gold, with elegant curves and filigrees and 4 clocks in the center, facing in four directions. It’s definitely a very cool sculpture, but hardly unique in an artistic country like Thailand where you find a colorful spirit house on nearly every corner. And that’s when it happens. Lasers suddenly bathe the structure in a golden light, and darned if the clocktower doesn’t begin to move! Okay, it doesn’t get up and walk, like Howl’s Moving Castle (shout out, Miyazaki fans). But panels slide open and shut and a variety of decorative items start to spin and gyrate. There’s music as well – classical Thai songs that add an eery atmosphere to the already-surreal scene, with cars, bike and tuk tuks racing around the intersection in surprising synchronization with the music. Over time, the clocktower changes colors too, cycling from gold to pink to green.

“Well, that’s not something you see every day, is it Donica?”
“It’s definitely my first time!”

As we squeeze hands, I feel grateful that I’m seeing this surprising sight with my sweetie whom, at the time, I’ve only known for a short while. It’s one of those moments when you pinch yourself, and thank the universe for offering us a very romantic gift.